Groundhog Day
House Church Central Goes to the Movies

Columbia Pictures, Trevor Albert Production, Harold Ramis Film

Some movies deserve annual viewing, and this Bill Murray comedy belongs in that category. When to view it? On every February 2, of course!

The co-writer and director of Groundhog Day, the late Harold Ramis, reports on the commentary track of the disc that he had unexpectedly received letters from people of many different faithsj, praising the movie as a perfect example of their particular faith! Sadly, some of those letters came from Christians.

The gospel according to Groundhog Day is this: Be a kind and generous resource to all your neighbors and you will achieve salvation. In the case of this movie, our very grumpy and self-centered protagonist is trapped in an artificial predicament that causes him to re-live Groundhog day endlessly, over and over again. He first attempts to solve the problem by seeking help from his colleague, Rita (Andie MacDowell), then from a doctor, and then from a wacky psychologist. He then uses his circumstances to unsuccessfully manipulate others, especially Rita. Giving in to the inevitable, he then tries various means of mayhem and suicide, but he still wakes up every morning at 6 AM, condemned to live the same day over again.

Finally deciding to try using his repetitive life to improve himself and help other human beings, he embarks on a new strategy. He learns to play the piano; he masters French poetry, card tossing, and ice carving; he takes care of a dying homeless old man; he rescues a child falling from a tree; and so forth. As the movie draws to a close, he finally breaks free of the February 2 curse and graduates to waking up on February 3. All his cynicism is gone, he has earned the love and respect of Rita and the whold community, and the couple resolves to take up a new life in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, where the groundhog legend is centered.

Groundhog Day is, of course, a works theology. Our hero achieves a type of salvation by concentrating on ridding himself of his own many faults and adopting a new path of helping others. Because of the comic skills of Murry, MacDowell, director Ramis, and the rest of the cast, the movie is hilarious and well worth an annual revisit. Nevertheless, its theology is seductive and the believing viewer needs to we wary and remember Ephesians 2:8-9.

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